The Bible is an amazing book filled with wisdom and wonder; but in the process of studying it, it is fair to say that some books of the Bible receive more attention than others. The four Gospels, along with a lot of the rest of the New Testament, are referenced an inordinate number of times in church sermons, daily devotionals, and even on bumper stickers. However, when was the last time you saw a quote from Judges or Nahum on the back of the car that just cut you off in traffic? What follows are some underappreciated books of the Bible that might warrant a read soon.
The Old Testament is rife with stories of ancient kings and mighty angels interfering in the affairs of men. Judges is a book that recounts some of these tales of old Israel and her sufferings, but it also includes some fascinating stories of powerful women. For example, in chapter four we meet both Deborah and Jael. Deborah is one of the nominal Judges, ruling Israel with wisdom and grace. Jael is an Israelite woman who kills an enemy general by stabbing him with a tent peg. (You go girl.)
Some parts of the Bible can feel a little dry, as they list generations upon generations of terrible kings and their sinful deeds. Ezekiel is not one of those parts. The book starts with an account of a vision that God gives Ezekiel, a priest of Israel, of angels and God Himself on His throne. Ezekiel goes on to prophesy the destruction of multiple societies which disobey the Lord in gruesome detail and finishes the book with a beautiful (if lengthy) description of a vision of a new Temple which God desires to be built. This book is a wild ride from start to finish.
We are used to looking to Isaiah for exciting descriptions of the future deliverance of God’s people from the hands of His enemies. Christmas sermons often quote the prophecies in Isaiah which point to the birth of Jesus. However, the coming of the Messiah to Bethlehem is also prophesied in Micah, alongside other messages of hope for the Israelites. It even ends with a description of “God’s Steadfast Love and Compassion,” which is a beautiful Biblical pick-me-up.
Though it is one of the shorter books on this list, Habakkuk is one of my personal favorites. It is also a book of God’s warnings against pompous pride and greed, but it ends similarly to Micah, with a humble prayer to the Lord and rejoices in His salvation and strength. In most Bibles, Habakkuk takes up only a few pages and makes for a quick Old Testament read.
Zechariah bears a likeness to Ezekiel because it starts with six chapters of descriptions of prophetic visions. These visions are fascinating, full of imagery, and unendingly symbolic. Then the book seems to recognize the other books which surround it by going immediately into the Lord’s judgment on oppressors and His justice for the oppressed. If you are looking for a book from the Old Testament to really spend time in, to get a feel for the Israelites’ problems and their coming hope, I recommend this one.
The only New Testament book to be included on this list, Jude is the sometimes-forgotten brother of James. His book is short, like Habakkuk, but meaningful. It explores the dangers of the growing church and the corruption that seeks to destroy it. In the end, Jude calls the early Christians to love and mercy above all else, reminding them that even those individuals who would seek to corrupt the church are worth saving in God’s eyes. Jude’s finishing doxology is a popular one for ending modern-day church services.
Reading the Bible from cover to cover is probably the only way to appreciate it as a whole truly, but can be daunting. Still, keeping the focus on only a few (mostly New Testament) books throughout our lives seems unfair. The next time your small group or Bible study is trying to find a new book to read, try one of these lesser-known volumes. They are sure to provoke good conversation, and almost never disappoint.